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Why Are Your Parents So Strict? 9 Reasons

Strict parents set high demands, with variations in warmth and responsiveness leading to either authoritative or authoritarian styles, the latter often associated with adverse outcomes.

Various factors contribute to strict parenting, including a need for control, hostile attributions, cultural influences, psychological inflexibility, emotional instability, lack of positive parenting skills, narcissistic traits, perfectionism, and socioeconomic status. 

Some parents are stricter with daughters due to gender stereotypes, safety concerns, cultural reasons, relationship dynamics, and economic factors. 

In Asian cultures, strict parenting is often influenced by Confucianism, collectivist norms, economic concerns, and competitive educational systems. Strictness about grades stems from concerns over future success, motivation, parental self-worth, past experiences, and overcorrection.

Strictness about dating may be due to concerns over control, distraction, safety, values, maturity, and past experiences. To make parents less strict, one can set realistic expectations, identify root causes, demonstrate responsibility, avoid conflict escalation, seek compromises, and build trust over time. Dealing with strict parents involves adapting to their rules, seeking help in cases of abuse, and focusing on personal growth and independence while also acknowledging and processing any emotional impacts from a strict upbringing.

why strict mother scolding child about homework

What are strict parents?

Strict parents set high standards and demands for their children. However, the parenting style of strict parents can vary greatly. When strict parents are demanding but also warm, responsive, and fair, they are authoritative parents. However, if strict parents are cold, unresponsive, and harsh, they are authoritarian parents.

While authoritative parenting is regarded as the best parenting style by many psychologists, authoritarian parenting is associated with adverse outcomes in children.​1​

When discussing strict parents, most people refer to authoritarian parents who have strict rules and are also cold, stern, and severe in their approach.

If you are struggling with strict, authoritarian parents, you’re not alone. A 2016 study by the University of Cincinnati analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) involving 17,399 participants. This research revealed a significant finding: 46.9% of the respondents, equating to 9,204 individuals, reported experiencing an authoritarian parenting style in their upbringing.​2​

Why are my parents so strict?

There are various reasons why parents are strict, and each family’s situation is unique. Here are 9 potential explanations for why your parents are so strict.

Need for control

Strict parents tend to have a strong desire for control over their children’s behavior. Research shows they have an external locus of control, which means they believe external forces, rather than the child’s internal discipline, dictate the child’s behavior. Therefore, strict parents believe children require external regulation to behave appropriately, according to a 2007 Democritus University of Thrace study involving 186 children and 160 parents. This outlook fuels an intense desire for control using stringent rules and harsh punishment.


Negative attributions

While strict parents attribute positive child behaviors to external regulation, they view negative child behaviors as stemming from the child’s innate difficult temperament. A 2017 study by Northern Illinois University revealed that strict parents tend to attribute negative behavior in children to hostile intent.

For example, if you make a mistake, a non-strict parent may think you lack skills, but an authoritarian parent may believe you have done this to annoy them. Such attribution leads to anger, frustration, and harsh disciplinary practices.​3​


Parenting styles are often influenced by the culture and social groups they belong to. For example, high demands for obedience and conformity from children are more common in collectivist cultures such as Latin America, Asia, and some religious groups. This strict parenting approach reflects cultural values emphasizing family hierarchy, group needs, and conformity to group norms. 

Parents from these cultural backgrounds often reinforce each other’s authoritarian beliefs about strict control and obedience being necessary for proper childrearing.​4​

Psychological inflexibility

A 2020 study from the University of Coimbra in Portugal found that strict parents often display psychological inflexibility. Once rigid parents decide a particular parenting practice is best, based on their upbringing, cultural norms, or societal pressures, they resist considering other viewpoints, even if evidence contradicts their beliefs.

For example, parents who use corporal punishment may continue advocating its effectiveness despite considerable research indicating its harmful impacts and the availability of better alternatives.

Emotional instability

A 2010 study titled “Personality and Parenting Style in Parents of Adolescents” found that strict parents tend to have higher emotional instability. They often feel subjective distress, dissatisfaction, and feelings of inadequacy.​5​

Additionally, a 2005 study in Motivation and Emotion showed that strict parents perceive more threats around them, like limited job opportunities for their children if they perform poorly in school or safety risks from community violence. This perception of threats leads strict parents to exercise more control over their children as a way to deal with their difficulties in managing negative emotions.​6​

Lack of positive parenting skills

If your parent was raised by strict parents themselves, authoritarian is often the only kind of parenting they have been exposed to. They don’t know that more gentle, supportive parenting methods exist or believe they work. When harsh, inflexible rules and severe punishments are all you know, envisioning or understanding alternative approaches can be difficult. 

After all, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

Meanwhile, their social circles and cultural norms likely reinforce the idea that anything less than strict parenting equals permissive parenting.

Your strict parent may genuinely believe in ruling their household with an iron fist because, in their mind, that is the proper way to parent. “This is how it’s done,” they think, perpetuating a strict parenting cycle.

Narcissistic traits

Some parents are strict due to narcissistic traits. Their controlling nature reflects a desire to use their children to meet their own needs. Narcissistic parents often view their children as extensions of themselves, and thus, the children’s achievements and behavior directly impact the parents’ sense of self-worth. Consequently, these parents feel they must use strict measures to ensure that their children’s performance positively reflects on them.


Strict parents’ controlling behavior is associated with maladaptive perfectionism, as found in a 2006 research by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. These parents impose unrealistic standards on their children, pressuring them to pursue high achievement and reach perfection.​7​

Low socioeconomic status

Many studies have found a connection between socioeconomic status (SES) and parenting styles, as summarized in the Handbook of Parenting by Hoff and Laursen in 2019.​8​

Parents from lower SES backgrounds often employ stricter disciplinary tactics for various reasons. Some strictly regulate their children’s behavior to shield them from the physical threats of high-crime neighborhoods. Others resort to strictness as a response to their own elevated stress and anxiety levels.

What are the signs you have strict parents?

Here are 8 signs you have strict parents.

  1. You have to follow many rules: Strict parents tend to have a detailed set of rules micromanaging every aspect of their children’s lives, such as curfews, use of electronics, social interactions, and daily routines. Many are not related to health or safety. They are “because I said so” rules.
  2. You have to comply rigidly: Rules are non-negotiable and strictly enforced. Disobedience, questioning authority, or challenging rules are not tolerated.
  3. You are punished harshly if you break a rule: Strict parents use punitive disciplinary methods. This can range from strict verbal reprimands to more severe punishments like grounding for extended periods, withdrawing privileges, or even physical discipline.
  4. You have to meet high expectations: Strict parents usually set very high standards for behavior, academics, extracurricular activities, and even personal habits, expecting children to meet these expectations without fail.
  5. You are not allowed to make decisions: You have limited opportunities to make your own decisions, even in age-appropriate matters.
  6. You don’t have privacy: Strict parents tend to be intrusive and invade their children’s privacy by monitoring their communications, scrutinizing their activities closely, or not allowing personal space.
  7. You are seen but not heard: There is a lack of open, two-way communication. Strict parents often only give commands to children without listening to them.
  8. You are frequently criticized: Strict parents are often critical of their children’s behavior, choices, and performance.
  9. You don’t feel loved: There is a lack of warmth, empathy, or emotional support, making you feel emotionally distanced from your parents.
  10. You are constantly stressed, anxious, sad, or all of the above: Children of strict parents often exhibit higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and fearfulness, as they are constantly concerned about meeting their parents’ expectations and avoiding punishment.

Why are some parents more strict with their daughters?

There are 5 reasons why some parents are more strict with their daughters than their sons. The reasons often stem from gender stereotypes, safety, culture, relationship style, and economic factors.

  1. Gender stereotypes: Some parents still cling to traditional gender role assumptions – that girls should be well-behaved, compliant, and focused on caregiving roles. They impose more rules to shape daughters into the “ideal” feminine role model.
  2. Safety: Some parents perceive the world as more dangerous for girls, leading them to impose stricter rules to protect them from potential harm, such as sexual harassment or violence.
  3. Cultural or religious reasons: In some cultures, daughters’ behavior or marriageability is closely tied to family honor. To safeguard this honor and their daughters’ future prospects, these parents impose more stringent rules and higher expectations on their daughters.
  4. Relationship style: Some parents find it easier to retain authority over daughters than sons.
  5. Economic factors: In some cultures, especially where there is economic hardship, daughters are seen as financial burdens due to factors like dowries, leading to different treatment.

Why are Asian parents so strict?

Many, but not all, Asian parents are strict. While some reasons for strict parenting parallel those behind strict parenting globally – such as a strong desire for control – cultural influences also play a notable role. Here are 4 additional factors that help explain why many Asian parents are so strict about behavior and academic performance.

  1. Confucianism: In many Asian countries, Confucian teachings emphasize filial piety, a principle that advocates for respect toward elders and following their guidance. However, this concept is often misinterpreted as blind obedience from children, and using abusive means is acceptable to obtain compliance. As a result, many parents equate “respect for me” with “obey my every command or else.”
  2. Collectivist societal norms: Many Asian societies are collectivist, meaning the needs and goals of the group (like the family or community) are often placed above individual desires. This can lead to parents placing high expectations on children to uphold family honor and maintain social standing.
  3. Economic concern: For families who have experienced hardship, there can be a strong desire to ensure their children achieve financial success and stability.
  4. Legacy of Educational Systems: The educational systems in some Asian countries are highly competitive, with high-stakes exams determining future educational and career opportunities. This can lead parents to impose strict rules around study and extracurricular activities.

Why are my parents so strict about grades?

Your parents are so strict about grades probably because they are concerned about your future success, your motivation, their self-worth, their childhood experiences, or overreaction.

  1. Future success – Some parents equate good grades with future success. The underlying belief is that high academic achievement provides better career opportunities, financial stability, and well-being. For these parents, grades become more than just numbers; they are seen as indicators of your potential.
  2. Motivation through strictness – Some parents are rigid about grades because they hope it will motivate children to achieve more. In their minds, strict standards will push you to succeed now and in the future.
  3. Parent’s self-worth – Other parents have their self-worth tied up in their children’s academic performance. Seeing their child struggle in school hurts their pride. It makes them feel like failures, as if low grades mean they didn’t do their job as parents. These parents may feel judged by their community or social circle based on their children’s poor academic performance.
  4. Perpetuating past pressure – In some cases, parents may have faced academic pressures growing up and are perpetuating a cycle they experienced.
  5. Overcorrection – Some parents experience a lack of pressure during their upbringing, which they believe has led to their underachievement. Therefore, they take a different approach with their children, enforcing higher standards to ensure their success.

Why are my parents so strict about dating?

Your parents are so strict about dating, probably because they are concerned over losing control, distraction, safety, protectiveness, values, your maturity, and their past experiences.

  1. Discomfort with losing control: As you grow up, parents have to let go of authority little by little. Dating is a big step – strictness eases their transition.
  2. Worries about distraction: Dating and relationships can consume time and focus. Parents may fear dating interfering with academics or other priorities.
  3. Safety concerns: Dating opens the door to risky situations – bad influences, peer pressure, unsafe sex, and emotional hurt.
  4. Protectiveness over their role: Parents can feel possessive, struggling to accept romantic partners replacing them as the most important person.
  5. Concerns about values: Dating outside your family’s culture or religion brings apprehension that you’ll abandon values they find important.
  6. Caution about maturity: Parents may feel you’re unprepared for the responsibilities and consequences of dating and relationships. They set limits to match your level of maturity.
  7. Projecting from past hurt: If parents had painful relationship experiences, they might try to prevent that pain for you through restrictive rules.

How to make your parents less strict

It can be challenging to make your parents less strict because changing someone else’s behavior or mindset is often complex and difficult. Strict parents tend to be psychologically inflexible, making it even harder to influence their approach.

However, there are 5 strategies you can employ to potentially ease your parents’ strictness.

  1. Set Realistic Expectations: Embarking on a mission to change your parents’ strictness might lead to disappointment. Instead, focus your energy on strategies that can create a positive dynamic.
  2. Identify the root cause: Determine which one(s) of the reasons mentioned earlier might be influencing your parent’s behavior. For instance, if they tend to attribute your actions to hostile intentions, the next time you fall short of their expectations or make a mistake, clarify your intentions. Explain that your actions were not deliberate and help them see that there might be other, more benign reasons for your behavior that they disapprove of. Over time, this approach may help shift their perspective from automatically assuming negative motivations to understanding the complexities of your actions.
  3. Demonstrate Responsibility: Show them you are responsible and capable. Consistently performing well in school and handling your obligations diligently show your parents that you are mature and trustworthy, possibly leading them to relax some of their stricter rules.
  4. Avoid Escalating Conflicts: It can be tempting to react strongly when you feel unfairly restricted, but escalating conflicts can often reinforce your parents’ strictness. Try to address disagreements calmly and rationally. Showing you can engage in mature discussions rather than arguments may positively influence their perception of you.
  5. Seek Compromises: Look for opportunities to negotiate and compromise. If your parents set a rule that seems too strict, propose a middle ground that addresses their concerns while giving you some leeway. Demonstrating that you can collaborate on solutions may encourage more flexibility from them.
  6. Build Trust Over Time: Building trust is a gradual process. Be patient. You may slowly earn more freedom and less strict oversight by consistently demonstrating your ability to handle responsibilities and make good decisions.

How to deal with strict parents

Dealing with strict parents as a teenager can be a challenging and often frustrating experience.

First, if your parents are physically abusive, tell a trusted adult like a teacher, counselor, doctor, or even the police. Describe your safety concerns and keep telling people until someone takes action. However, keep in mind that some adults do not believe spanking is physical abuse, and corporal punishment is still legal in many states in the U.S.

Most strict parents aren’t physically abusive, but they have very rigid rules and punitive disciplinary methods. Dealing with these strict parents requires you to focus on how you can adapt and manage reactions to their strictness. Minimizing conflicts, keeping yourself out of trouble, staying healthy, and working hard to secure a better future will pave the way for a more independent and fulfilling adult life.

Right now, it feels like you don’t have a life. But this situation will not last forever.  Focus on preparing and positioning yourself now so that when the opportunity arises, you’ll be ready to seize it.

If you find yourself struggling with prolonged sadness, depression, or suicidal thoughts, seek professional help immediately.

How to deal with strict parents at 21

Dealing with strict parents at 21 involves the following 10 steps.

  1. Establish boundaries.
  2. Distance yourself physically and mentally if needed.
  3. Call them out if their behavior becomes abusive.
  4. Build your self-esteem.
  5. Relearn about the world without authoritarian rules.
  6. Make independent decisions.
  7. Acknowledging your feelings.
  8. Build a support network.
  9. Recognize your triggers.
  10. Understanding how your childhood has affected you.

Is it normal to feel upset about losing teenage years to strict parents?

Yes, it is completely normal to feel upset about losing your teenage years to strict parents. Adolescence is a unique and formative period, often filled with new experiences, friendships, and personal growth. Many people reflect on their teenage years with nostalgia, cherishing the memories of adventures, firsts, and the freedom to explore their identity. 

Losing that freedom can leave someone feeling resentful, sorrowful, or angry. It’s normal to grieve the loss of experiences like spending time with friends, dating, going to parties, or getting involved in activities.

Realizing that you are deprived of these typical teenage experiences can be particularly painful, as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime phase that shapes much of your future self. These feelings are valid, and recognizing them is essential in understanding how your upbringing has influenced your current self and how you might move forward.


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    * All information on is for educational purposes only. Parenting For Brain does not provide medical advice. If you suspect medical problems or need professional advice, please consult a physician. *